August 07, 2022 (Reston, Virginia)

Functional yet attractive storage is a perennially favorite home amenity. That’s why, with few exceptions, built-ins are a value-added home feature.

The Pros:

  • They are a great way to control clutter, keep less attractive items at hand but out of sight, and showcase art, collectibles, or mementos.
  • They can make good use of awkward space, while helping pull a room together visually.
  • They’re typically sturdier than stand-alone pieces, and easier to clean around.
  • You can customize units (shelves, drawers, cubbies, cabinets, window seats with storage beneath) to meet specific needs.

The Cons:

  • Highly customized built-ins with fixed shelving may limit storage and display options. One example are the countless built-ins designed for media before televisions increased in size and DVDs and VHS were consigned to history.
  • Very large or multiple built-ins can limit furniture placement or even the function of a room. A room with shelves on every wall can’t transition easily from library to guestroom, for example.
  • Custom units can be quite expensive, particularly if you opt for exotic wood or features like leaded glass doors.

Other Considerations

  • For less formal spaces, like mudrooms, laundry areas, playrooms, or dens, you can take advantage of modular systems or semi-custom cabinetry to create attractive but affordable built-ins. Manufacturers typically provide trim pieces that can fill in small gaps.
  • To blend seamlessly, match a built-in’s molding to the room’s baseboard and ceiling trim.
  • If you’re planning built-ins around a focal point like a fireplace, it’s smart to work with a designer to get the scale and design right, so they complement rather than compete with the primary focus.
  • Think about and incorporate lighting if you want to showcase art or collectibles—it’s much easier to add during installation than afterward.
  • Painted cabinets are easier to repair/repaint than stained/finished wood, which will require sanding and priming.
  • Choose knobs rather than pulls for doors and drawers. If you replace hardware later, the variances in pull sizes and spacing can make it difficult to install new ones without filling holes and trying to restore the finish.

About Gulick Group, Inc.: Established in 1987, Reston-based Gulick Group has developed communities throughout Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, including One Cameron Place and Newport Shores in Reston, The Reserve in McLean, Autumn Wood, Grovemont, and the three Riverbend Communities in Great Falls, Red Cedar West in Leesburg, and Wild Meadow in Ashburn.